Archive for the ‘Colloquia’ Category

Colloquium Today (10/15) at 3:30 PM: Alan Prince

Join us in the Greenberg Room today as we welcome Alan Prince (Rutgers) for a colloquium. His abstract is given below, as well as a link to a PDF version of the abstract which includes additional figures. The talk will be followed by a social and dinner.

Testing the boundaries: aspects of typological structure in OT

The formal typology is perhaps the central object of modern linguistics, where formal typology = the set of all grammars admitted by the premises of a theory. In OT, this object is both self-consciously placed in the foreground and amenable to study.

A formal typology classifies grammars in terms of the inner mechanisms of its theory. In OT, a typology classifies grammars in terms of shared and distinguishing ranking patterns (Alber & Prince) that collectively combine to give the entire set of grammars in the typology. What these are, and may be, depends on the structure of the typology (Merchant & Prince).

Typological structure in OT involves both geometry and order. A notion of adjacency between grammars leads to the ‘typohedron’ of a typology, where each grammar is represented by a single vertex. Adjacency comes from the linear orders (‘rankings’) that grammars consist of. Basic classification involves sets of grammars that are geometrically adjacent in this sense. Because of the way constraint ranking selects optima, order and equivalence relations between entire grammars, grounded in the geometry, also emerge. Basic classification respects these relations as well. (In Merchant & Prince, they are represented by the MOAT — ‘mother of all tableaux’ — which contains the essential OT properties of each constraint.) Both aspects of structure are representable graphically in ways that render them quite accessible (see PDF version).
The logic of OT ranking leads to two further developments that build from the basic structural elements. (1) Ranking properties may take limited scope, so that in grammars outside the scope of a property, certain distinctions are moot. This follows from the fact that constraints need not be crucially ranked with respect to each other in every grammar. (2) Constraints belong to classes as well, based on the symmetries of their ranking behavior. Constraints must often have an atomic character, but their behavior may echo that of symmetrical partners operating in distal regions of the typology.

Find the augmented abstract pdf here.

Alan Prince Colloquium Next Friday (10/17) at 3:30 PM

Join us in the Greenberg Room next Friday as we welcome Alan Prince (Rutgers University), who will talk on “Testing the boundaries: aspects of typological structure in OT.” His abstract is given below, as well as a link to a PDF version of the abstract which includes additional figures.

Abstract: The formal typology is perhaps the central object of modern linguistics, where formal typology = the set of all grammars admitted by the premises of a theory. In OT, this object is both self-consciously placed in the foreground and amenable to study.

A formal typology classifies grammars in terms of the inner mechanisms of its theory. In OT, a typology classifies grammars in terms of shared and distinguishing ranking patterns (Alber & Prince) that collectively combine to give the entire set of grammars in the typology. What these are, and may be, depends on the structure of the typology (Merchant & Prince).

Typological structure in OT involves both geometry and order. A notion of adjacency between grammars leads to the ‘typohedron’ of a typology, where each grammar is represented by a single vertex. Adjacency comes from the linear orders (‘rankings’) that grammars consist of. Basic classification involves sets of grammars that are geometrically adjacent in this sense. Because of the way constraint ranking selects optima, order and equivalence relations between entire grammars, grounded in the geometry, also emerge. Basic classification respects these relations as well. (In Merchant & Prince, they are represented by the MOAT — ‘mother of all tableaux’ — which contains the essential OT properties of each constraint.) Both aspects of structure are representable graphically in ways that render them quite accessible (see PDF version).
The logic of OT ranking leads to two further developments that build from the basic structural elements. (1) Ranking properties may take limited scope, so that in grammars outside the scope of a property, certain distinctions are moot. This follows from the fact that constraints need not be crucially ranked with respect to each other in every grammar. (2) Constraints belong to classes as well, based on the symmetries of their ranking behavior. Constraints must often have an atomic character, but their behavior may echo that of symmetrical partners operating in distal regions of the typology.

Find the augmented abstract pdf here.

Colloquium Today (5/16) at 3:30 PM: Wassink

Please join us for today’s colloquium being given by Alicia Wassink (University of Washington) at 3:30 PM in the Greenberg Room. Department social will follow, and all are welcome!

VOWEL RAISING IN WASHINGTON ENGLISH: WHAT’S THE BAG DEAL?
Abstract: This paper considers the implications for sociolinguistic theory of vowel raising before velar stops in three word classes in Washington state English. (æg) bag, (ɛg) beg, and (eyg) vague are in close proximity for speakers in a three-generation sample. First, using group-level data, we ask whether by-generational differences point to a type of progression through vowel space. The patterns are investigated in terms of three theoretical types of merger. In “merger by approximation” (Labov, 1994:321) one affected vowel, e.g., (æg) gradually approaches another, e.g. (ɛg), or, both move to a spectral “middle ground”. In “merger by transfer,” affected vowels shift to a new phonemic class, word-by-word, without leaving behind intermediate forms. In “merger by expansion,” the ranges of the affected vowels are enlarged, the resulting distribution equivalent to the union of the two ranges. Group-level patterns rule out at least one of the options, allowing us to consider the mechanism of this change. Second, using individual data within generations, we ask whether speakers vary in the type of pattern they show. Can speakers in the same community appear to participate in the change in different ways (e.g., some by approximation, others by transfer, etc.?). If so, is this a problem for characterizing the change?

To test the theories of merger, we use acoustic data reflecting the locations of stable point vowels paired with vowels involved in the change, as well as data for the changing vowels relative to each other. Speakers were partitioned into groups depending on their generation and patterns of raising. Measures included F1, F2, and duration at three temporal locations, allowing modeling of vowel trajectory. However, comparisons primarily utilize an overlap metric (Wassink 2006) that allows detection of differences between the volumes of vowel ellipsoids, providing an objective heuristic for approximation of vowel distributions. We find evidence supporting the conclusion that (eyg)-class forms are reanalyzed in a process of merger by transfer, while the phonological story for (æg) is much more complex. Here, we will see that the data force us to consider the import of vowel trajectory information for the maintenance of phonetic distinction.

Labov, W. (1994). Principles of linguistic change: Internal factors (Blackwell, Oxford).

Wassink, A. B., (2006) “A geometric representation of spectral and temporal vowel features: Quantification of vowel overlap in three varieties,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 119(4), pp 2334-2350

Colloquium Today (5/09) at 3:30 PM: Bonet

Please join us for a departmental colloquium from Eulàlia Bonet (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) – today at 3:30, in the Greenberg Room. A social and dinner will follow.

Morphology-phonology interactions in imperatives with clitics


In different varieties of Catalan, the form of imperatives followed by clitics is longer than the imperatives without enclitics. For instance, the Majorcan imperative cus ‘sew!’ has an extra vowel [i] when followed by a clitic: cus-i#li ‘sew for him/her’. The shape of this extra element, which I will call ‘extension’, varies depending on the type of verb and on the dialect, and it can contain more than one segment; in Formenteran, for example, the same imperative cus with a clitic is realized cus-iga#li. In this talk, following joint work with Francesc Torres-Tamarit, I will show that this phenomenon is better analyzed as the addition of material rather than the result of some shortening operation in the bare imperative. I will also argue that the driving force for the extension is prosodic in Majorcan and Formenteran, two varieties that have stress shift with enclitics. These two Balearic varieties will be compared with Central Catalan, which has no stress shift, and has a less stable extension. The analysis of the phenomenon, within Optimality Theory, resorts crucially to Corrlex constraints (Steriade 1999, 2008), which establish a correspondence relation between candidates and listed output forms, and which compete with prosodic markedness constraints.

Colloquium Today (4/18) at 3:30: Mascaró

Joan Mascaró (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) will present a colloquium today at 3:30 PM in the Greenberg Room. Abstract given below.

IS PHONOLOGICALLY-CONDITIONED ALLOMORPH SELECTION PHONOLOGICAL?

Abstract: There are cases in which the phonetic shape of a morpheme cannot be derived from a single lexical form by phonological processes but has nonetheless a phonological conditioning. These cases pose a problem for theories for which allomorphic choice has to take place at lexical insertion, where the expression of phonological regularities is not available. A minimal natural extension of Optimality Theory gives an immediate phonological explanation to such cases by allowing allomorph selection to take place via evaluation of candidates in the phonology. I will examine some simple illustrative examples and then I will move to more intrincate cases, in particular prenominal determiner and adjective selection in Northwestern Central Catalan which depends on morphological, phonological and syntactic factors. I will also examine alternative proposals, in particular those claiming that all allomorphy is done through subcategorization frames.

All are welcome! Dinner will be served following the colloquium.

Colloquium Today (4/11) at 3:30: Gal

Susan Gal (University of Chicago) will present a colloquium at 3:30 today in the Greenberg Room, with a social and dinner following.

Plain and Fancy: The Role of Qualities in the Analysis of Linguistic Variation

Abstract: Indexicality has been a key analytical term in the understanding of variation. Instead of correlations between co-occurring features and social categories, we now search for the way culturally-formulated identities are linguistically indexed or invoked. The concepts of style and indexicality have been important and productive analytical tools in the exploration of how social meaning is achieved. But some puzzles remain. How and why do people invariably attribute sensual qualities to the variants they recognize, and actually come to hear linguistic forms as being: plain or fancy, thin or thick, big or small, oily or plain, flat or curvy, good or bad? How come such qualities come in pairs? Why are matters of language apprehended in terms more suited to objects (e.g. flat, thick, oily)? This paper examines the construction of such sensuous metaphors for linguistic form and the arrangement of linguistic varieties on qualitative axes of differentiation. It suggests that speakers rely on specific cultural frameworks and a limited set of semiotic principles to recognize, produce and sometimes transform the qualities attributed to linguistic variants, to speakers themselves, and to an array of other, closely related expressive forms: sartorial and bodily signs; interactional “manner” and comportment. The paper presents ethnographic and linguistic evidence from German-Hungarian bilinguals in Hungary and from observations about English made by travelers in the United States in the early 19th century.

Colloquium Today (4/4) at 3:30 PM: Tonhauser

Judith Tonhauser (OSU Linguistics/Stanford CASBS) will give a colloquium today, Friday April 4 at 3:30 PM in the Greenberg Room, with dinner to follow.

What it means to be alone: The role of the Question under Discussion in the Interpretation of Paraguayan Guaraní exclusives

Abstract: A fundamental principle in research on meaning is that the meaning of an utterance is determined as a function of the meaning of its parts, the way the parts are put together and the context in which the utterance is made. Over the past thirty or so years, formal research on meaning has identified several different ways in which context affects interpretation and that, in fact, context-dependence may be built into the lexical meanings of natural language expressions. In this talk, I illustrate the context-dependence of utterance meanings by exploring the interpretation of Paraguayan Guaraní utterances with the exclusive enclitics “=nte” ‘only’ and “=año” ‘alone’ and I argue that the interpretation of utterances with “=año” ‘alone’ depends on context in a way not previously recognized for exclusives in other languages. In particular, I argue that the Question under Discussion not only serves to constrain the associate of the exclusive (Beaver & Clark 2008, Roberts 2011) or to impose conditions on the acceptability of the exclusive (Coppock & Beaver in press), but also contributes to the identification of the property that is exclusively attributed to the associate. As a consequence, utterances with “=año” ‘alone’ can convey a broader range of meanings than e.g. those with English “alone”.